Unplanned Parenthood: The Blessing of an Inconvenient Pregnancy
About a year ago my husband and I began to consider expanding our family. We spent countless hours thinking, talking, and praying about this giant step. We are both in school with little income to speak of, so we weren't sure how it would all come together. But God's leading seemed very clear: It was time to take the leap.
At first, I felt sure of our decision. We had prayed about it and my husband was incredibly supportive. But my confidence didn't last long. About a month after we made the decision, I freaked out. "How is this going to work? I am a doctoral student for Pete's sake!"
I began asking questions like, "Am I going to be a ball of stress for the next three years? Is this basically a death knell to my future as a student?" And perhaps the biggest questions of all: "Will I be a good mom?" and, "Will I even be able to get pregnant?"
It is ironic that my fears oscillated between uncertainty about having a baby, and fears about my ability to conceive. But that was a clue about my spiritual state at the time. In deciding to grow our family, we were surrendering a large amount of control to God. And I never give up control easily.
As a woman, I have found that fertility and childbearing highlight my addiction to control more than almost anything else in my life thus far. Women are, after all, trained to control our bodies. Managing one's appearance and conducting one's body in a way that honors God are common female virtues in the church. Added to that is the resource of birth control, with which we can control our biological cycles.
This control has extended beyond pregnancy prevention into the realm of pregnancy facilitation. Women are now waiting longer to have children, some because they must, others because they can.
In truth, the control we have over our bodies is an illusion of power that inevitably comes crashing down. For me, the illusion crumbled when I began to think seriously about having children, and recent media stories reveal that I am not alone.
In the past six months, many news outlets have featured stories about the downsides of delaying pregnancy. What is particularly interesting about these articles is the common shock among older women that their fertility has an expiration date. MSNBC featured a story about a 43-year-old woman who realized, too late, that she had been terribly uneducated about her fertility. She confessed, "Most women aren't taught—and don't learn — basic facts about fertility and aging …. It's not that we're stupid. It's that we've been misinformed." NPR featured a similar story about a woman in her early 40s who was equally surprised by her decreasing fertility. In disbelief she said, "It just seemed so fashionable to have kids in your 40s these days."
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